Twenty years of age and too old to be adopted by a celebrity, Ondongo cuts a lonely figure in the village where children used to play once and elders sat telling stories amongst the corrugated iron huts.
The village has been decimated by a mass of celebrity adoptions which has effectively turned the whole area into a wasteland.
Children who were once the lifeblood of this tiny hamlet deep in the wilds of Uganda are now propped up in places like Manhattan, Kensington or Beverly Hills, living in mansions with Olympic swimming pools and walk-in cupboards decked to the hilt with thousands of expensive clothes and shoes.
“The heart of this community has been torn out by these vanity celebrity adoptions,” Jill Severino, a relief worker from Médecins Sans Frontières, told the Daily Squib on Friday.
There used to be 30 families living in this village and now they have all gone. As well as A-list celebrities there have also been adoptions from D-listers who wish to jump on the ‘celebrity adoption’ bandwagon.
After adopting a boy from the same village, pop star Madonna, even went to great lengths to have jungle scenes painted on the bedroom walls of her African boy’s quarters to make him feel more at home. Amongst other well known celebrities, David Beckham has also adopted a Ugandan boy as well as Angelina Jolie.
“It’s the next accessory amongst the new breed of celebrity; they already have the private jets, Aston Martins and everything and anything they want. Keeping up with the Jones’ is not cheap – especially if you’re the typical shallow celebrity,” Charles Peters head of the XTM PR agency told the Daily Squib from his offices in London.
There have been instances where some celebrities have wanted their first choice exchanged for another child due to unforeseen circumstances – like clashing with the decor scheme.
The brokers usually line up the children before the celebrities arrive. There is normally a brief ceremony of dancing and singing once the celebrity has chosen which African boy or girl they want to try out.
Once the children are successfully patriated and settled within the celebrity household they are not viewed as pure ornaments and objects of interest, but as real live attractions to be paraded in front of the media networks and cameras. That is until the next celebrity craze comes along.